It’s always been difficult to make it in the art world, but add a global pandemic into the mix, and it’s now harder than ever for young artists to get their foot in the door. Working to combat this is the Robert Walters UK New Artist of the Year Award, which was held at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London.
Out of 983 submissions, only 10 artists were shortlisted to have their works exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery and be in the running to win a £10,000 prize to help develop their art career, with support from the Robert Walters recruitment company. The pieces ranged from tapestries to 3D sculptures and even a kinetic sculpture of a table and chair that ‘breathed’ (yes, you read that correctly).
Conor Rogers, previous winner of the Robert Walters UKNA in 2019, spoke about how winning the award allowed him to pursue his artistic career full time and advised this year’s cohort to “understand and keep coming back to what motivates your art”. He then announced the runner up prize of £5000, which went to Catriona Robertson for her large-scale piece ‘Burrow Sprout Grow’. The work is constructed from concrete, steel and reclaimed materials to comment on urban geology.
The 2021 UK New Artist of the Year Award winner was Anne von Freyburg, whose five textile paintings dominated the exhibition space. Freyburg was one of the more established artists out of the cohort, already featured in private collections and exhibited globally. As part of the prize, her paintings will now be displayed in the London company headquarters of Robert Walters for one year.
The rest of the exhibition is available digitally on the Robert Walter UKNA’s virtual gallery space for one month. The public can vote for their favourite artist to receive the ‘Public Choice Award’.
The work that UKNA does to support young artists is vital, giving them opportunities to exhibit their works globally and in cities across the UK. Projects such as these can be life-changing for young people from minority backgrounds, who would otherwise find it challenging to overcome the endless barriers that the art industry can present.
If you are an artist above the age of 14, you can find more information about UK New Artists’ work to support emerging talent here.